UC and Reach Higher will host former first lady Michelle Obama’s 5th anniversary College Signing Day celebration on May 1

First College Signing Day event hosted by Reach Higher on the West Coast; festivities to be held at UC’s nine undergraduate campuses with marquee event at UCLA

The University of California has been selected by Reach Higher, the college access and success initiative launched by former first lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House, to co-host its 2019 College Signing Day event on May 1 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

College Signing Day is a national celebration of all high school seniors and transfer students, especially those from low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation college-going backgrounds who have committed to pursuing higher education — whether at a community college, a four-year college or university, or a professional training program, or by joining the military.

The high-energy celebration with Mrs. Obama will feature celebrities, athletes and other performers, all of whom are coming out to recognize students’ academic achievements and to offer encouragement and guidance on how to make the most of their future educational opportunities. UC’s other undergraduate campuses will hold simultaneous celebrations for students in their respective regions and stream the UCLA event.

“There are few things in life that are as transformative as a college education,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “We are excited to host a celebration of California students taking this significant step toward a brighter future.”

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said that he hoped the College Signing Day events would send a clear message to students that a college education is attainable, regardless of family income, background or other circumstances.

“As a first-generation college graduate myself, I am proud that nearly a third of UCLA undergraduates also go on to become first-generation college graduates,” Chancellor Block said. “Public institutions like UCLA must always strive to make higher education accessible, through outreach efforts that encourage students to apply and resources that support their success while they are here.”

UC’s commitment to expanding college opportunity is reflected in the number of students it serves and its robust financial aid program, which is one of the strongest in the nation. Financial aid at UC covers all tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates with family incomes of $80,000 or less. Under that policy, 57 percent of UC undergraduates pay no tuition. And UC’s students come from all walks of life:

  • More than 80 percent of UC undergraduate students are from California.
  • More than 40 percent of UC undergraduates are among the first in their families to attend college.
  • 37 percent of UC undergraduates come from low-income households.
  • One out of every three undergraduates is a transfer student.

In addition to enrolling and graduating large numbers of low-income and first-generation college students, UC works in nearly 1,500 California public schools, helping to prepare students for college. Its Transcript Evaluation Service, for example, helps students know exactly which courses they need to be eligible for admission to UC and the California State University system.

“We are proud to partner with the University of California, which is committed to opening the doors of college opportunity to all Californians and students across the country,” said Eric Waldo, Reach Higher’s executive director. “College Signing Day is a special tradition, and we are excited to celebrate our fifth anniversary at UCLA with students who we know will change the world.”

College Signing Day is held on May 1 to coincide with a common deadline for students to respond to offers of admission at most colleges and universities.

More than 9,000 California high school and community college transfer students will be selected by their respective schools and institutions to attend the UCLA event. Thousands more will participate in regional College Signing Day festivities that are being held simultaneously on UC’s eight other undergraduate campuses.

Participation is limited to those who have been invited by their schools and districts, but everyone is welcome to watch the livestream of the celebration.